South Warwickshire Literary Festival

Thanks to everyone at the South Warwickshire Literary Festival for a fabulous event on Saturday (September 23). It was my first time at this festival and it was very worthwhile. It’s a small event, friendly and with a delicious choice of home-made quiches, soup and cakes for lunch.

I would have really liked to listen to archaeologist, Dr Claire Millington’s talk about her dual timeline children’s book. My novel, The Woman in the Painting is dual timeline (although not children’s) and there is an element of archaeology within it, synergies which I’m sure would have made this talk very interesting. However, there was the inevitable overlap between workshops and the talks on the main stage and I was in a workshop on presentation skills for writers whilst she was on the main stage.

As I’ve been invited to talk to a number of book clubs/reading groups, the opportunity to brush up on those presentation skills, conquer the nerves, and learn about engaging with your audience was very timely. I’m now armed with a folder of advice that I’m going to put into practice in preparing myself for these occasions. 

Listening to two successful authors, who are also accomplished presenters, is always fascinating and provides something to aspire towards – on both fronts. And again, there are synergies with my own journey as a writer. For Celia Rees, the inspiration for Miss Graham’s War came from finding an old cookery book with notes inside it handwritten by her mother, aunt and grandmother. For me, the inspiration for The Roots of the Tree was my mother’s discovery, when she was in her early 60s, that the father she’d adored actually wasn’t her father at all.

What author wouldn’t relate to Erin Green’s journey, with the early manuscripts that are consigned to the back of a drawer, the rejections, the losing yourself in the writing, and the perseverance – that in Erin’s case paid off after many years. I was there with another member of West Oxfordshire Writers, and we shared a chuckle at her comments about the role of writing groups. 

All-in-all, a very enjoyable and productive way to spend a Saturday.